THE ANIMALS SLAUGHTERED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK

ARE SUCH ANIMALS LAWFUL OR UNLAWFUL MEAT ?

Introduction

The Jews have been, for the last two thousand years, living a scattered existence in the world. But whatever the circumstances and the period, and whatever the country or society they have been living in, they have always maintained their identity. That which has enabled them to preserve their selfhood is the fact that most of them, if not all of them have consciously bound themselves to their religious code and reverenced their national traditions. Even when they were in a state of subjection, they got the dominant nation to permit them to observe their distinctive rituals and practices.

One such ritual is "kosher". The word does not apply merely to the animal the Jews slaughter for food but to anything involving a distinction between the Jewish and the non-Jewish food laws, as for example English bread and crackers, which are prepared by Jews themselves and called kosher, which implies that now these things do not contravene the Jewish laws. In every society that they have lived in, they have provisioned themselves in like manner, and it is their extreme care in this regard which has elicited for their laws of food deep respect from the other nations. If a person instructs an airline to provide him kosher on board, he is served with food which is placed in a tray, is properly covered, and bears the mark of a rabbi's seal; the seal is broken before the eyes of the passenger. Thus the Jews, who constitute a very small minority in any country, have not only themselves observed their practices, they have also made the rest of the world respect those practices.

And now, for a contrast, look at the condition of Muslims. Once arrived in the Western countries, most of them forget about the distinction between the clean and the unclean. There are Muslims who, on the strength of legal opinions given by certain Muslim scholars, consider it perfectly lawful to eat any kind of meat available in those countries, eon when the animal has not been slaughtered in the Islamic way. Even in cities containing twenty to forty thousand Muslims, no arrangement for the provision of lawful meat has been made. Nor has the right to slaughter animals in the Islamic way been asserted and secured. A good many 1, most of them Arabs, wrangle with the Muslims who wish to abide by the Islamic laws. They insist that if the lawfulness of the meat is in doubt, the eater may remove that doubt by taking Allah's name over the meat himself. I have been constantly receiving letters about such disputes, and reports tell me that the debate continues. I have, therefore, written this article which is being presented in pamphlet-form.

That Islam attaches great importance to the proper slaughtering of animals is evident from a tradition of the Holy Prophet. He said: "He who offers our prayer, faces (in prayer) the Qiblah (i.e. the Ka'aba), and eats of the animal slaughtered by us is a Muslim." In other words, slaughtering in the Islamic manner is, after the offering of the prayer and the turning of the face towards the Qiblah, the most significant mark

That distinguishes a Muslim from a non-Muslim.

The Quranic Restrictions on Eating Animal-Flesh

We shall begin with an account of the restrictions placed by the Quran on eating animal-mesh and of the explication, which the Sunnah furnishes of those restrictions.

1. Unclean Foods

The Quran at four different places explicitly forbids, for use as food, carrion, blood, swine flesh, and the animal slaughtered in the name of other- than-Allah. The prohibition occurs in? The Cattle (verse 146) and The Bee (verse 115), which are Meccan surahs, and is repeated in? The Cow (verse 173) and The Table Spread (verse 3), which are Medinan surahs. The Table Spread, the last of the surahs to contain laws and edicts, makes two additional points. One, that not only the animal dying naturally is unclean but also the animal which is dead through strangling, or beating, or falling from a height, or goring (by another animal) is unclean. Two, that whether or not the name of other-than- Allah is pronounced over it, the animal sacrificed at the altar of polytheists is as unclean as "that over which other-than-Allah's name is mentioned".

To this list of unlawful foods the Prophet has added ass-flesh, the fanged beasts of prey, and the taloned birds of prey.'

2. Proper Slaughtering

The second condition is that only a slaughtered animal may lawfully be eaten of. It says in the Quran:

Forbidden unto you (for food) are carrion,... the strangled, and the dead through beating, and the dead through falling from a height, and that which has been killed by (the goring of) horns, and the devoured of wild beasts, saving that which you make lawful (by slaughtering)...."'


The verse plainly means that the only animal, which is not unclean, is the one which dies through proper slaughtering, and that in all cases where death takes place in some other way, the animal would be unclean. The word tazkiya (proper slaughtering) has not been explained in the Quran. Nor does knowledge of language help much in determining its meaning. Consequently we shall have to take recourse to the Sunnah. The Sunnah tells us that there are two forms of such slaughtering.

As for slaughtering the cow, goat, or the like animals, the traditions of the Prophet contain the following directions:

  1. Abu Huraria transmits that, on the eve of Hajj, the Prophet dispatched Budail bin Warqa Khuza'i on an ashy camel to proclaim along the mountain passes of Mina that the animal should be slaughtered at some point from just below the glottis to the root of the neck, and that the animal should not be made to perish hastily."

  2. Ibn Abbas transmits that the Prophet forbade the cutting of the spinal cord of the animal when it is slaughtered.'"

  3. There is a mursal' tradition, related by Imam Muhammad from Saeed bin Al-Musayyab, which says: "The Prophet forbade the cutting of the spinal cord of the goat at the time of slaughtering it."

In view of these traditions and the established practice of the times of the Prophet and the Companions, it is held by the Hanifites, the Shafi’ites and the Hanbalites that in slaughtering an animal, its throat and esophagus must be cut. According to the Malikites, the throat and the two jugular veins should be cut.'

In all these forms of slaughtering, which have been described in the Sunnah in explication of the Quranic injunction, the animal does not die at once; the link between its body and mind is retained till the last moment. As it tosses and turns, blood from every part of its body is drawn out and only the outflow of blood causes its death.

Now, since the Quran has not elaborated its own injunction, and the Prophet is known to have elucidated it in the above-noted manner, it will have to be conceded that the words "except that which you slaughter" imply the same kind of slaughtering as explained by the Prophet, and that the animal which is killed in disregard of this is unclean.

The Quran mentions still another method of killing an' animal, namely, killing with a trained hunting beast provided the beast keeps from eating of the game. In this case the animal will be taken as slaughtered even if it has been ripped up by the hunting beast.

And those beasts and birds of prey which you have trained as hounds are trained, you teach them that which Allah taught you; so eat of that which they catch for you....'

The Prophet explains this as follows:

"...And if it catches anything for you and you come up to it while it is still alive cut its throat; if you come up to it when the dog has killed it but not eaten any of it eat it."

"...But if it has eaten any of it do not eat, for. It has caught it only for itself."

"And that which you hunt with your dog and, finding it alive, slaughter, you may eat."

The conclusion is that when a hunting beast makes a kill for its owner, the Quranic condition for slaughtering is satisfied. Such killing, therefore, does not fall under "that which the beasts have eaten of" -which is unclean -but under the exception of "that which you slaughter". But the Quran sites this law only in regard to the trained hunting beast. The Prophet counts out that beast also which is kept as a pet but not trained to hunt. Therefore, it cannot be argued that it is permissible to eat the flesh of an animal, which has been tom up by some beast other than the hunting kind. The tradition, which allows the eating of game when it is captured alive and slaughtered, definitively lays down that an animal, which is dead through any means other than slaughtering, is to be treated as carrion.

3. The Condition of Taking Allah's Name

The third Quranic condition is taking Allah's name at the time of killing an animal. This has been stated in different forms at different places in the Quran. Positively, it has been said:

Eat of that over which the Name of Allah has been mentioned if you are believers in His revelations.

And negatively:

And eat not of that whereon Allah's name has not been mentioned, for lo! It is abomination..

In hunting with trained animals, the following directions have been given:

(And those beasts and birds of prey, which you have trained, as hounds,... ) Eat of that which they catch for you and mention Allah's name upon it,' and observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is swift to take account.

Then we see that, at several places, the Quran does not employ the word "slaughter" at all and, instead, uses "taking Allah's name" as a term.

That they may witness things that are of benefit to them, and mention the name of Allah on appointed days over the beast of cattle that He has bestowed upon them. (That is, they should slaughter them).

And for every nation We have appointed a slaughtering ritual, that they may mention the name of Allah over the beast of cattle that He has given them for food. (Again it means that they should slaughter the animals.)

So mention the name of Allah over them {the camels) when they are drawn up in lines. (That is, slaughter them.)

Eat of that over which the name of Allah has been mentioned. (That is, over which Allah's name is mentioned at the time of slaughtering it.)

And eat not of that over which Allah's name has not been mentioned. (That is, over which Allah's name is not mentioned at the time of slaughtering it.)

This repeated use of "taking Allah's name" for "slaughtering" conclusively proves that the two expressions are synonymous in the view of the Quran and that taking Allah's name is essential to the cleanness of the slaughtered animal.

We shall now inquire what legal position, according to the sound (saheeh) and firm (qawee) traditions of the Prophet, "taking Allah's name" has. Adi bin Hatim is the man who often questioned the Prophet about game hunting. The rules that the Prophet told him are as follows:

When you set off your dog mention Allah's name, and if it catches anything for you and you come up to it while it is still alive cut its throat; if you come up to it when the dog has killed it but not eaten any of it eat it; but if it has eaten any of it do not eat,... When you shoot an arrow mention Allah's name.

That which you have hunted with your bow and over which you have taken Allah's name you may eat; and that which you have hunted with your hound and over which you have taken Allah's name you may eat as well.

Spill blood with whatever instruments you chooses.

When you set off a trained dog or hawk, taking Allah's name as you set it off, you may eat of what it catches for you.

Adi bin Hatim asked the Prophet what to do in a situation when, having taken Allah's name, he sets off his dog and, on reaching the scene of hunt, sees another dog standing near by and finds it difficult to determine which of the two has killed the animal. The Prophet replied: "Don't eat, for you took Allah's name over your own dog and not over the other one."

These explicit and unmistakable injunctions of Allah and the Prophet leave no room for doubt that taking Allah's name is essential to the cleanness of the slaughtered animal and that the animal killed without Allah's name being taken over it is unclean. If verses and traditions as clear as these do not formulate any law, then one would like to know what kind of textual evidence (nuss) is required to formulate one.


The Views of Jurists

From among the juristical schools, the Hanafites, the Shafi'ites, and the Hanbalites are agreed that the animal over which Allah's name has not been taken is unclean, and that no harm is done by inadvertent omission of taking Allah's name. The same view is held by Ali, Ibn Abbas, Saeed bin Al-Musayyab, Zuhri, 'Ata, Taus, Mujahid, Hasan Basri, Abu Malik Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Laila, Jafar bin Mohammad, and Rabeea bin Abu Abdur-Rahman.

According to another group of jurists, if taking Allah's name were omitted, whether intentionally or unintentionally, the slaughtered animal would be unclean. Of the same opinion are Ibn Umar, Sha'bi, and Mohammad bin Seereen. Abu Thaur and Daud Zahiri also subscribe to that view. Ibrahim Natha'i thinks that if it is forgotten to take Allah's name, the animal would be "disagreeable to the point of being unclean" (al-makruhut- tahreemiyy).

Imam Shafi'i believes that taking Allah's name is no condition at all for the cleanness of the slaughtered animal. He agrees that the Shariah recommends taking Allah’s Name and the Sunnah, but adds that omission, intentional or unintentional, of it would not affect the cleanness of the animal. Abu Huraira is the only Companion and Imam Auzai the only mujtahid to hold this view. The view has also been attributed to Ibn Abbas, 'Ata bin Abi Rabah, Imam Malik, but their received opinion is a contrary one.


The Weakness of the Shafi'ite View

In support of their view the Shafi'ites argue that in verse 122 of the Cattle

And eat not of that whereon Allah's name has not been mentioned, for lo! It is abomination..

The taking of the waw as a conjunction would violate the principles of elocution. For, they say, the first part of the verse is an optative verbal sentence while the second is a declarative nominal sentence' and it is incorrect to conjoin these two different types of sentences. Taking the waw as the circumstantial waw, therefore, the Shafi'ites construe the verse as: "Don't eat of the animal if, in case of its being fisq, Allah's name has not been taken over it." Then they explain the word fisq with reference to verse 146 of 7he Cattle which reads:

" ...Or the abomination which was immolated to the name of other-than-Allah."

The verse is now made to mean that the only unclean animal is the one over which the name of other-than-Allah has been taken and that omission of taking Allah's name does not make for uncleanness.

But this is a very unsound interpretation. It lays itself open to various objections. To begin with, the manifest meaning of the verse is quite different.

The first impression gained by the reader is not the one suggested by the Shafi'ites. It is only wishfully that one can extract from the verse the meaning that the animal slaughtered without Allah's name having being taken over it is clean.

Secondly, if joining a declarative nominal to an optative verbal sentence infringes the elocutionary principles, the use of the emphatic irma and the intensifying 1am is no less a breach of the rules of elocution. If Allah had to say what the Shafi'ites say, the wording would have been: (i.e. in case of its being abomination) AND NOT (in case of its most certainly being abomination).

Thirdly, in their passion for argument, the Sha6'ites fail to keep the complete verse in mind. The verse reads:

And eat not of that whereon Allah's name has not been mentioned, for lo ! it is abomination. Lo ! the devils do inspire their minions to dispute with you. But if you obey them, you will in truth be idolaters.

Now even if it is granted that the waw in it is abomination !

is circumstantial, the problem of a declarative nominal sentence joined to an optative verbal sentence persists, for the sentence which follows right after is clearly declarative, is incapable, of being made into a circumstantial sentence, and is necessarily joined to the optative sentence. Moreover, this is not the solitary instance of its kind to be found in the Quran. At a number of places, a declarative nominal has been joined to an optative verbal sentence, as for example in verse 4 of The Light

…flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors;

And in verse 221 of The Cow.'

Do not marry unbelieving women until they believe: a slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman. Even though she allure you. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: a slave man who believes is better than an unbeliever even though he allure you.

The Shafi'ites must either revise their elocutionary doctrines or declare that the Quran violates the principles of elocution. For it is not possible at each place in the Quran to take the maw joining an optative verbal to a declarative nominal sentence as the waw of circumstance.

Fourthly, the Shafi'ite interpretation would make the verse mean:

Do not eat of the animal over which Allah's name has not been mentioned in case of the animal's most certainly being abomination on account of other-than- Allah's name having been mentioned over it.

The question is, if the idea was simply to declare unclean the animal slaughtered in the name of other-than-Allah, does the first part of verse not become totally meaningless and redundant? For it would be senseless to forbid the eating of the animal over which Allah's name has not been taken. It would have sufficed to say: "Eat not of the animal over which other-than-Allah's name has been mentioned." Could it be reasonably explained why the orders (Eat not of that over which Allah's name has not been mentioned)

had to be given at all?

Fifthly, even if the waw is taken as the waw of circumstance, there is no need to interpret fisq (abomination) with reference to a far-off verse, i.e. verse ig6 of The Cattle. After all, what prevents us from taking the word in its literal meaning of disobedience and rebellion? The word taken literally, the verse would mean: "Do not eat of the animal over which Allah's name has nest been taken -in case of the animal's being fisq" (i.e. in case the avoidance of taking Allah's name is deliberate,-for the word fisq applies to deliberate defiance of orders and not to omission through forgetfulness). This interpretation is preferable to the Shafi'ite interpretation for two reasons. One, it is consistent with all the verses and traditions relevant to the issue. Two, it saves a complete sentence of the verse -"And eat not of that over which Allah's name has not been mentioned" -from becoming meaningless.

Another argument which the Shafi'ites advance is as follows. A group of people called on the Prophet and inquired whether they could have any of the meat brought them from outside by certain neophyte Muslims, it being unknown whether Allah's name had been mentioned over the animal. The Prophet replied: "You may yourselves take Allah's name over it and eat it." On the basis of this tradition the Shafi'ites claim that taking Allah's name is not ‘ essential, for had it been so, the Prophet would not have permitted the eating of the meat over which Allah's name is uncertain to have been taken. But the tradition actually runs contrary to their thesis. It proves that the obligatoriness of taking Allah's name was a widely-known matter, that being the reason why those people came along inquiring about the meat brought them by the newly-converted country people (Muslims). Had the practice been different, the question of the lawfulness of that meat would not have arisen at all. The reply that the Prophet gave them is also significant. Had taking Allah's name been immaterial, the Prophet would have clarified that it was not essential to the lawfulness of the slaughtered animal's' flesh, which therefore, they could eat whether or not Allah's name had been taken over it. Rut what the Prophet actually told them was that they could eat the flesh after taking Allah's name over it. The logical meaning of this which a little deliberation would yield is that the animal slaughtered by a Muslim should as a rule be deemed to have been slaughtered properly and may be eaten of with an easy mind, and that any lingering doubt may be removed by the eater himself by mentioning Allah's name over the meat. Obviously, one cannot go about investigating, nor does the Shariah obligate him to investigate, whether the animal whose flesh is being sold at city and village shops was a clean animal, whether the slaughterer is a Muslim or not, whether he is a neophyte Muslim or an old one, and whether he has slaughtered it properly or not. On the face of it, everything done by a Muslim should be taken as correct, except where proof to the contrary exists. Unfounded doubts should not be made a ground for abstinence; they should rather be eliminated by saying Bismillah or Astaghfirullah. This is the lesson we learn from that tradition. In no way does the' tradition prove the unobligatoriness of taking Allah's name.

Still another Shafi'ite argument, no less fragile than the previous ones, is based on a mursal tradition which Abu Dawud has included in his book Al-Maraseel.

The tradition has the Prophet saying:

The animal slaughtered by a Muslim is lawful whether or not the Muslim has taken Allah's name over it, for if he were to take some name, it would be the name of Allah.

In the first place, this is a mursal tradition transmitted by a little-known Follower and so cannot render that unobligatory which has been proved to be obligatory by successive marfu traditions. Even if the tradition were absolutely sound, would it really imply that taking Allah's name is unobligatory ?

At best it could be said that if a Muslim chances to have slaughtered an animal without taking Allah's name, his omission should be attributed to inadvertence rather than to positive intention, and that the animal may be eaten of on the presumption that had the man taken some name it would have been the name of Allah and not of other-than- Allah. The tradition cannot be taken to mean that it is lawful to eat of the animal slaughtered by those who do not at all believe in taking Allah's name over the animal -who in fact hold a contrary view, and that taking Allah's name over the animal is not essential at all. Stretch and strain it as one may, the tradition will admit of no such interpretation.

This is what the Shafi'ite arguments for the unobligatoriness of taking Allah's name come to. One pledged to blind imitation might think them irrefutable. But I do not think that a man who reviews them critically would fail to realize how weightless they are in comparison with the arguments for the obligatoriness of taking Allah's name.

In brief, the conditions that the Quran and the sound traditions state for the meat to be clean are as follows:

The Animals Slaughtered by the People of the Book

Now we shall see what position the Quran and the Sunnah take up on the animals slaughtered by the People of the Book. The Quran says:

This day are (all) good things (tayyibat) made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them.'

The words of this verse clearly point out that the only food of the People of the Book that has been made lawful for us is that which falls under the head of the tayyibat. The verse does not, and cannot, mean that the foods which are termed foul by the Quran and sound traditions and which we may not, in our own home or in the home of some other Muslim, eat or offer to some Muslim for eating, would become lawful when offered us in a Jewish or Christian home. If someone disregards this obvious and reasonable interpretation, he can, interpret the verse in one of the following four ways only.

  1. That this verse repeals all those verses which have occurred in connection with the lawfulness and unlawfulness of meat in the surah The Bee, The Cattle, The Cow, and in The Table Spread itself; that this verse of the Quran renders unconditionally lawful not only ' the pole-axed animal but also carrion, Swine flesh, blood, and the animal immolated to other-than-Allah. But no rational (aqlee) or transmissive (naqlee) evidence can ever be produced in favor of this alleged cancellation. The absurdity of the claim is shown by the fact that the three conditions of lawful meat which we noted above occur in the surah The Table Spread itself, in the same context, and just before the verse now under discussion. What right-minded person would say that, of the three consecutive sentences in a passage, the last would nullify the first two?

  2. That this verse countermands only slaughtering and taking Allah's name arid does not alter the unclean nature of swine flesh, carrion, blood, and the animal sacrificed to other-than-Allah. Rut we doubt if there exists, besides this empty claim, any solid reason for drawing a distinction between the two types of orders and for maintaining the one type and canceling the other. Anyone having such a reason is welcome to present it.

  3. That this verse fixes the dividing line between the food of Muslims and the food of Jews and Christians; that in the case of Muslims' food, all the Quranic restrictions would continue to be effective, but in respect of the food of Jews and Christians, no restrictions would obtain, which means that, at a Jew's or a Christian's, we may unhesitantly eat what is presented to us.

The strongest argument which could be adduced in favor of this interpretation is that Allah knew what kind of food the People of the Rook eat, and that if, having that knowledge, He has permitted us to eat their food, it means that everything they eat -including swine flesh, carrion, and the animal sacrificed to other-than-Allah -is pure and lawful for us. But the verse on which this reasoning is based itself knocks the bottom out of this argument. In unambiguous terms the verse lays down that the only foods of the People of the Book which Muslims may eat are those which are tayyibat. And the word tayyibat has not been left vague: the two preceding verses explain at length what the tayyibat are.

  1. That, out of the food of the People of the Book, swine flesh alone may not be eaten, all other foods begin lawful; or that, we may not use swine flesh, carrion, blood, and the animal slaughtered in other-than- Allah's name, though we may eat of the animal which has been killed in some way other than slaughtering and over which Allah's name has not been pronounced. But this interpretation is as unsustainable as the second.

No rational or transmissive argument can be given to justify the distinction between the injunctions of the Quran, to explain why, in respect of the food of the People of the Book, injunctions of one type remain in force while those of the other are rendered inoperative. If the distinction and the exception are grounded in the Quran, verses must be cited in proof, and if in the Tradition, the particular traditions must be referred to. And if there is a rational argument for it, it must be put forward.

Juristical Opinions

We shall now see what opinions have been offered by the various juristical schools on eating of the animal slaughtered by the People of the Book.

The Hanafites and the Hanbalites maintain that, for a Muslim, the food of the People of the Book is subject to the same restrictions which have been placed by the Quran and the Sunnah on the food of Muslims. Neither in our own homes nor in the homes of Jews and Christians may we eat of the animal which is killed in some manner other than slaughtering and over which Allah's name has not been taken.

The Shafi'tes say that, since taking Allah's Name is not obligatory, neither upon Muslims nor upon the People of the Book, a Muslim may eat of the animal which the Jews or Christians slaughter without taking Allah's name over it, though he may not eat of the animal which they slaughter in the name of other-than-Allah. The weakness of this position has been exposed above and so there is no need to discuss it here.

The Malikites, while granting that taking Allah's name is one of the conditions for the cleanness of the slaughtered animal, hold that the condition is not meant for the People of the Book, the animal slaughtered by them being lawful even if Allah's name has not been taken over it. The only argument presented in support of this view is that at the time of the Battle of Khyber, the Prophet ate the meat sent by a Jewess, without inquiring as to whether Allah's name had been taken over it. But this incident could exempt the People of the Book from taking Allah's name only if it were established that the Jews of those times used to slaughter animals without mentioning Allah's name over them and that the Prophet, when he ate that meat, was in the know of that. To say simply that the Prophet did not ask whether Allah's name had been taken over it would not relax the condition in the case of the People of the Book. It is quite likely that the Prophet ate that meat unhesitantly because he knew that the Jews of his times took Allah's name over the animals they slaughtered.

Ibn Abbas says that the verse "The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you"

Has repealed the verse

"Eat not of that over which Allah's name has not been mentioned,"

And that

The People of the Book. Have been exempted from observing this injunction.


But this is Ibn Abbas's personal view and not a marfu' tradition. Moreover, Ibn Abbas is alone in holding this view, there being no one who is in agreement with him. Still further, Ibn Abbas does not offer any convincing reason as to why the one verse should cancel the other -and cancel only one verse and not the rest of the restrictions on food.

'Ata, Auza'i, Mak'hul and Laith bin Sa'd hold that the verse

"The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you"

Has rendered lawful

"That which has been immolated to other-than-Allah."

Ata says that Muslims may eat of the animal slaughtered in the name of other-than-Allah. Auzai says that one may eat of the game hunted by a Christian even if one hears the Christian taking the name of Christ over his dog as he sets it off Mak'hul says that there is no harm in eating of the animals which the People of the Book slaughter for their churches and synagogues and religious ceremonies.

But the only argument given in support of this is that Allah knew full well that the People of the Book sacrificed animals in the name of other-than-Allah and yet He permitted the eating of their food. The answer is that Allah knew full well that the Christians ate swine flesh and drank wine, so why not make the verse declare lawful wine and swine flesh as well?

In our opinion, the soundest view is that of the Hanafites and the Hanbalites. Any other view one may hold on one's own responsibility. But as shown above, the reasons and arguments advanced in favor of the other views is so flimsy that, on the strength of them, the unclean cannot be proved to be clean, nor can the obligatory be made unobligatory. I would not advise any Allah-fearing person to adopt any of those views and to start eating of the animals cut down in Europe and America.

In the end, two clarifications are in order. Firstly, in killing small animals like the hen, the pigeon, etc., slight carelessness often results in an abruptly chopped-off head. Some jurists ' say that there is no harm in eating of such an animal. On the basis of this opinion, certain scholars have given the verdict that where a machine severs the head at one stroke, the condition of slaughtering is fulfilled. Rut to make the jurists' opinions into a basic law (nuss) and derive from it rules which would alter the basic laws themselves is not a correct approach. The Shariah's injunctions about taking Allah's name have been given above, as have been the texts of the Quran and the Sunnah on which those injunctions are based. Now if the jurists have granted a concession in the case of an inadvertent violation of those injunctions, how can one regard this as the basic law and abrogate virtually, the Shariah's injunctions about slaughtering? The jurists have said, and rightly, that one need not try to find out whether Allah's name has been taken over each and every animal slaughtered by the People of the Book; however, if it is positively

Learnt that, over a particular animal, Allah's name has been deliberately avoided to be taken, that animal may not be eaten of. On the basis of this, again, it has been suggested that no inquiries need be made about the meat commonly available in Europe and America and that the animals slaughtered by the People of the Book may be eaten of with the same ease of mind with which the animal slaughtered by Muslim butchers is eaten of. But this logic would be valid only when we knew that a certain section or population of the People of the Book believe, in principle and as a matter of faith, that Allah's name ought to be taken at the time of slaughtering an animal. As for the people who we know are not at all convinced that a distinction between the clean and the unclean exists, and who do not in principle agree that taking Allah's or other-than-Allah's name makes any difference to the animal's cleanness or uncleanness, how can one take with an easy mind the animals slaughtered by them?



Halal Meat:

Question: Recently, a friend of mine attended a lecture by a learned scholar. In response to a question about the meat being sold at the American grocery stores being Halal or not, he replied that there were two things in the Qur’an. First, is the following verse:

Eat not on which Allah’s name has been pronounced. (6:121)

Then, there is this verse:

The food of the People of the Book is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them. (5:5)

So according to this scholar, the meat at the American grocery stores is not prohibited and he said we would not be sinning if we had that meat but it was better to avoid it. Therefore, my question to you is that can we eat the meat slaughtered by the Americans, considering that they are People of the Book?

Answer: A deliberation on the contexts of 6:121 and 5:5 reveals that the condition imposed by 6:121 (that is Allah’s name should be positively taken on slaughtering an animal) is a universal principle and the food of the People of the Book can only be eaten

if, besides other conditions, It also fulfils this condition.


These other conditions are stated at various places in the Qur’an. To quote Sarah Baqarah:

Believers! Eat of the good things that We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is Him you worship. He has only forbidden you dead meat and blood and the flesh of swine and that on which any name other than Allah has been invoked. (2:172-3)


In other words, just as swine, dead meat, blood, meat on which some other name has been taken cannot be eaten from the tables of the People of the Book, similarly meat on which Allah’s name has not been positively taken cannot be eaten from them.
It needs to be appreciated that 5:5 has a specific background which makes it a verse that cannot be taken independently. Until this verse was revealed, the food of the People of the Book was forbidden for the Muslims. The reason for this was that many lawful edibles had been
made unlawful for them by Allah as a means to punish them for their stubbornness. Similarly, they themselves had made unlawful for themselves edibles, which were originally lawful for them like the camel**. Consequently, after the list of lawful and the unlawful edibles was set right by the Prophet (sws), then only were the Muslims allowed to eat from their tables.


*. The Qur’an says:

And on the Jews, We forbade every animal with undivided hoof and We forbade them the fat of the ox and the sheep except what adheres to their backs or their entrails or is mixed up with a bone. This was in recompense for their willful disobedience. (6:146)


**. The Bible says:

But among those that chew the cud or have divided hoofs, you shall not eat the following: the camel …(Leviticus, 11:4)


GETTING TO THE MEAT OF THE MATTER

To answer the question as to whether the meat sold in the markets or served in restaurants is lawful for Muslims to consume, one needs to carefully look at two points:


1. Who has slaughtered the animal (the slaughterer)?

2. How was the animal slaughtered (the slaughtering procedure)?


In the following discussion, we exclude the case when the slaughterer is a Muslim, who has followed the Islamic slaughtering procedure, for it is then clear that the meat is Halal for Muslims to consume.


THE SLAUGHTERER

The slaughterer must be from the People of the Book (i.e. a Christian or a Jew). Animals slaughtered of other religions or people with no religion at all are not lawful for Muslims to consume. Hence, for the meat sold in a Non-Muslim market, one should find out whether the religion of the slaughterer is either Christianity or Judaism.


ISN’T IT ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT THE MAJORITY OF THE INHABITANTS OF A PARTICULAR NON-MUSLIM COUNTRY ARE FROM THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK?

No!!! Especially not when the percentage of the population who are not from the People of the Book is substantial. Most of the scholars think that 10% or more is considered substantial; and that is not the religion of the majority of the population that matters in this case, but the religion of the slaughterer himself. If the slaughterer is neither a Christian or a Jew, the meat is Haram for Muslims to consume even if the majority of the population are Christians and Jews. Conversely, if the proportion of People of the Book in a certain country represents only a minority but it is known that the meat in the market comes from animals slaughtered by that minority, then the meat is eligible to be Halal (we still need to look at the slaughtering procedure). It should be pointed out here that extrapolating the public polls and statistics regarding percentages of faith in the general population to a particular strip of it (i.e., the meat industry) is an incorrect and misleading way of determining the faith of those who work as slaughterers.


IF THE CONSTITUTION OF CERTAIN COUNTRY IS SECULAR AND THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT ADOPT CHRISTIANITY OR JUDAISM AS ITS STATE RELIGION, ISN’T THIS SUFFICIENT GROUND TO RULE THAT THE MEAT SOLD IN THE MARKET OF THAT COUNTRY IS HARAM FOR MUSLIMS TO CONSUME?

No. Such consideration has no bearing on the ruling in this matter. If the country has a secular constitution but the slaughterer is from the People of the Book, the meat is still eligible to be Halal. It is only if the slaughterer himself is not from the People of the Book that the meat becomes Haram. Governments may nevertheless indirectly affect the final ruling if they enact laws about the slaughtering procedure that would make the meat Haram. The reason that this question was addressed is to show the process of "Tahreer Mahali-neizaa" (Determining the area of contention) in which irrelevant elements are sifted out and the fact that some Muslims repeatedly use it - erroneously - to show that the meat in a non-Muslim market is Haram.


IF THE MEAT IN THE MARKET COMES FROM ANIMALS SLAUGHTERED IN THE PLANTS OF A CERTAIN MEAT - PACKING COMPANY, DO WE HAVE TO CHECK THE RELIGION OF EVERY EMPLOYEE IN THE COMPANY?

No. Only the religion of the employees who do the actual slaughtering. The religion of the other employees is irrelevant.


SUPPOSE THAT THE MAJORITY OF THE SLAUGHTERERS IN A CERTAIN COMPANY ARE FROM THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK AND ONLY A MINORITY BELONGS TO OTHER RELIGIONS. CAN WE EAT FROM THE MEAT OF THAT COMPANY IF WE DO NOT KNOW SPECIFICALLY BY WHICH GROUP THE ANIMAL WAS SLAUGHTERED?

No!!! If Halal meat is mixed with Haram meat and we do not know which is which, it is Haram to consume such meat.


THE SLAUGHTERING PROCEDURE

The Halal way of slaughtering has already been described in Slaughtering the Halal Way. What we are interested in doing here is to discuss whether the slaughtering methods commonly used in the US make the meat eligible to be Halal. There are hundreds of sources of information on the subject some of which have been used here along with information obtained form Muslim professionals in the meat industry.

All meat sold or traded in the US must derive from animals slaughtered under inspection at a USDA federal - or state - approved facility. The main law addressing the slaughtering procedures of animals at slaughterhouses is the federal "Humane Slaughter Act." This Act, however, provides no regulation for the slaughtering of the more than five (5) billion poultry consumed each year in the US.

For animals other than poultry and ritually slaughtered animals, it is a requirements of the Humane Slaughter Act that livestock must be stunned into unconsciousness before they are killed. The stunning g of livestock in normally accomplished by an electrical device of a gun.


THE STUNNING

Two aspects of the stunning part of the slaughtering procedure need to be examined.

First: its ruling in general and second: whether or not it kills the animal before it actually gets slaughtered.

The ruling of stunning in the Islamic Fiqh is that it is Makrooh or disliked for it causes pain to the animal and it is not a recommended part of the Islamic slaughter way which requires that the animal be treated gently.

We took the second question (whether stunning kills the animal before it is slaughtered) to three professionals in the meat business: Dr. Fawzee As Sayed, a veterinarian and a USDA meat inspector in the area of Fresno, California; Amin Attia, owner of Halal Products International, who has been in the business of meat slaughtering, domestically and for export, for more than ten years; he is also based in Fresno, California; and Ahmad Fallah, owner of International Market in Fort Collins, Colorado. Mr. Fallah has more than thirteen years of experience in the meat industry and is presently completing his Ph.D. in veterinary medicine.

All of these three confirmed the fact that the stunning procedure definitely causes the animal to die in a short period of time (a function of the animal health and other factors) if left without slaughtering. When asked about he percentage of animals that die before slaughtering, each one had a different answer. Dr. As Sayed insisted the delays in the production lines are very minimal an that the percentage of animals who die before being slaughtered is less than one percent. He also said that inspectors can and do identify the animals and order them removed from the production line. Mr. Attia is of the same option as Dr. As Sayed but he believes that the percentage may be as high as three or four percent. Mr. Fallah, however, strongly ascertains based on his experience in many slaughterhouses that the percentage of animals who die prior to being slaughtered is around fifteen (15%) percent. Any estimate, he said, of less than ten percent (10%) is unrealistic.


IF THE MEAT IN A NON-MUSLIM MARKET WAS SLAUGHTERED BY PEOPLE OF THE BOOK BUT WE KNOW THAT SOME OF IT CAME FROM ANIMALS THAT WERE STUNNED AND DIED PRIOR TO BEING SLAUGHTERED, IS THE MEAT LAWFUL FOR MUSLIMS TO CONSUME?

Most scholars are of the opinion that if the percentage of the dead animals is small (2 or 3%) then one can eat that meat because the probability of it being dead is minimal, but if that percentage increases to ten (10%) or more then one can not eat the meat. Dr. Aburrahman Abul Khaliq, however, is of the opinion that one can not eat that meat at all for the default rule when it comes to eating is the meat is Haram until it is proven to be Halal.


MORE INFORMATION AND ORGANIZATION IS NEEDED

The decisive factor of the matter, when it comes to judging the market meat, is to know the slaughterer and the way he slaughters. This means that Muslims in EVERY community are obliged to seek information on these two aspects to the meat sold in their local market. No general conclusion can be drawn to the WHOLE meat market in the US. The subject of Halal meat is a very important one. Meat products and by-products touch our lives in many ways and the consequences can be very grave. We can not claim to be responsible and committed Muslims if we do not take the time to investigate this matter. It is hoped that this article has at least brought to light questions that one should ask in his investigation and exposed potential problems to be aware of. Muslims should organize and act locally to get clear answers to their concerns. They should also be active in trying to change the inhumane slaughtering procedures that are being used in the West. Muslims should also encourage and make sure that Halal meat stores follow the correct Islamic procedure in their slaughtering.




HOW HUMANE IS THE HUMANE SLAUGHTER ACT?

Two scientists, Professor Schultz and Dr. Hazim both of University of Hanover, Germany, conducted an experiment to compare the Islamic slaughtering with the stunning required in the so called humane slaughter. Several electrodes were surgically implanted at various points of the skull of all animals, touching the surface of the brain. The animals were allowed to recover for several weeks.

Some animals were then slaughtered by making a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck cutting the jugular veins and the carotid arteries of both sides as well as the trachea and esophagus (Islamic Method). Other animals were stunned using a Captive Bolt Pistol (CBP). During the experiment, electroencephalograph (EEG) and electrocardiograms (EKG) recorded the condition of the brain and the heart of all animals. The results were as follows:


ISLAMIC METHOD

1. During the first three seconds after slaughtering the EEG did not record any change, thus indicating that the animal did not feel any pain during or immediately after the incision.

2. For the following three seconds, the EEG recorded a condition of deep sleep unconsciousness. This is due to the large quantity of blood gushing out of the body.

3. After this total of six seconds, the EEG recorded zero level, showing no feeling of pain at all.

4. As the brain message (EEG) dropped to zero level, the heart was still pounding and the body convulsing vigorously (a reflex action of the spinal cord) driving maximum blood out of the body.


STUNNING

1. The animals were apparently unconscious soon after stunning but the EEG showed severe pain immediately after stunning.

2. The heart of the stunned animal stopped beating earlier than the one slaughtered the Islamic way thus resulting in the retention of more blood in the meat.

If confirmed, this experiment would have shown that the stunning required in the "Humane Slaughter Act" is not humane. It should be noted that this so called Humane Act may be based more on economics than on Humanness. The main purpose of stunning has less to do with causing a painless death to the animal than with rendering the animal motionless, thus allowing the production line to go at a faster pace and achieving higher efficiency and profits for the meat packing company.






SLAUGHTERING THE HALAL WAY

The Shariah term for Halal Slaughtering is Dhakat. Dhakat in Arabic comes from the root idea of making something become good in smell and taste, and making it complete. Dhakat thus means: "to slaughter an animal in such a way as to make it smell and taste good, because slaughtering releases the blood, enabling the meat to dry faster." (Al Qurtubi V6 / P52) As an Islamic technical term, it means releasing the blood of animals by means of a sharp object from a specific place in a specific manner, doing it for the sake of Allah (SWT) Alone, and mentioning His Name over the animal.

Scholars have agreed that the best and most complete way to slaughter is to cut the windpipe (trachea), the gullet (esophagus) and the two jugular veins in the neck. Slaughtering must be performed on the front of the neck without cutting the spinal cord. Scholars, however, have differed regarding what constitutes the minimum amount of cutting, and the exact point on the neck where it should take place. Those who understood the Prophet’s (SAW) Hadith to mean "kill" the animal think that cutting the throat and the windpipe is good enough to achieve the killing; and those who understood them to mean "release the blood" insisted that in addition to that, the jugular veins, or at least one of them, must also be cut. The important point is that some scholars recommended that slaughtering performed from the back of the neck be avoided, because the results in cutting the spinal cord, and thereby killing the animal, before the actual slaughtering.


THE SLAUGHTERING TOOL

The basic tool to be used in slaughtering is, of course, a knife. Any sharp edge, however, can be used except teeth, nails, or bone. Examples of materials giving a sharp edge are: steel, iron, copper, gold, glass, stone, and wood, if it is sharp enough. Kaab ibn Malik (RA) reported that:

"They had sheep that were shepherded by a young woman who noticed at one point that a lamb was dying. When she told me, I broke a stone and slaughtered it, but I told them not to eat." (The full version is narrated by Al-Bukhari.)

And in the Hadith reported by Raf’a ibn Khadeej (RA),

The Prophet (SAW) told the Companions to use "anything that releases the blood, and mention the Name of Allah over it, but do not use a tooth or a nail, for a tooth is bone, and nails are the knives of the Ethiopians." (Reported by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others)

It is said that Ethiopians at the time used to kill their animals in the fashion to show their courage and strength.

In a lengthy discussion of all possible objects for slaughter, Ibn Rushd said: "It does not make sense to differentiate between teeth and bones for he [the Prophet (SAW)] explained that a tooth is not a good tool by the fact that it is made of bone. And it is well agreed upon in our Madh-hab that anything other than iron is disliked (that is, when iron objects are available) because the Prophet (SAW) has said:

"If you slaughter, then slaughter in the best way. One should sharpen his edge and comfort gently his animal." (Bidaiatul Mujtahid V1 / P433)


WHO SHOULD SLAUGHTER

Scholars agree that the person conducting the slaughtering can be a Muslim or one of the People of the Book. If the person has not reached puberty yet, or is drunk or insane, scholars have differing opinions. The Shaafi’ee School says that their Dhabeehah is Halal if they are aware of what they are doing. The Malikites say the boy’s Dhabeehah is Halal, but not the drunks or the insane person’s because (under the circumstances) they cannot reason. The main issue behind these differences is that of Niyyah (intention). Those who consider it to be a requirement, do not accept their Dhabeehah as Halal, and vice versa. All scholars agree that the Dhabeehah of the Murtadd (one who has chosen to give up Islam) is not considered Halal.


INVOCATION OF ALLAH’S (SWT) NAME OVER THE ANIMAL

Scholars agree regarding the legitimacy (Mashru’yah) of invoking the Name of Allah (SWT) over the Dhabeehah, but they differ on whether it is obligatory (Waajib) or recommended (Mustahabb). In other words, is it considered a requirement, in order for the Dhabeehah to be Halal or not? Three MAJOR opinions of scholars have been mentioned by Ibn Kathir in his Tafseer (V2 / P169) in explaining Surah Al-An’am 6 Ayat 121. The Ayat says:

"Eat not (O believers) of that (meat) on which Allah’s Name has not been pronounced (at the time of the slaughtering of the animal), for sure it is Fisq (a sin and disobedience to Allah). And certainly, the devils do inspire their friends (from mankind) to dispute with you, and if you obey them [by making Al-Maytata (a dead animal) legal by eating it], then you would indeed be Mushrikun (polytheists): [because they (devils and their friends) made lawful to you to eat that which Allah has made unlawful to eat and you obeyed them by considering it lawful to eat, and by doing so you worshipped them, and to worship others besides Allah is polytheism]." (Al-An’am 6:121)

The following is a brief summary of these opinions:

FIRST: That the invocation is a condition for lawfulness. This opinion is held by the majority of scholars, including Abu Hanifah, Malik, Ahmad, Thawree, Ibn Abbas and many other. They say that in the above Ayat:

1. The order not to eat implies an absolute prohibition because nothing in the Ayat of elsewhere negates it or says otherwise.

2. The absence of the invocation is considered to be Fisq (impiety) or disobedience. That classification is given only to actions that are considered to be Haram.

3. The prohibition is a general one and should not be construed to only mean dead animals of animals killed by Mushriks, as some scholars have claimed. The reasoning behind this is that nothing in the Ayat indicates such a restriction or specification, and the fact that prohibition of dead animals and animals killed by Mushriks has been clearly and specifically mentioned elsewhere in the Quran more than once.

These scholars also used the following Hadith to support their opinion: Aadee ibn Hatem (RA) said:

"I said: ‘O Prophet of Allah, I send my (hunting) dog and mention the Name of Allah.’ The Prophet (SAW) told me: ‘If you send your dog mentioning the Name of Allah and he killed, you eat; but if he eats from it, do not eat. He has caught it for himself.’ I said: ‘I send my dog, and then I find another dog with him, and I do not know which one caught for me.’ The Prophet (SAW) said: ‘Do not eat, because you only invoked the Name on your dog, and not on the other.’" (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, among other similar Hadith)

If the invocation is dropped deliberately, the Dhabeehah is considered to be "dead," and it is Haram to eat. But if one forgot to mention it, then his slaughter is lawful and the Dhabeehah is Halal.

SECOND: That invocation is not a requirement, and that if one has not made it (on purpose or just forgot to do so), the slaughter would be lawful, and the Dhabeehah Halal. This is basically the Shafi’ee School’s opinion, but is also one of the opinions reported on behalf of Malik and Ahmad.

THIRD: That it is a condition for the lawfulness of the Dhabeehah, and that if the Muslim does not invoke the Name of Allah (SWT), his Dhabeehah is not Halal. This opinion does not differentiate between those who forget to make the invocation form those who deliberately omit it: the Dhabeehah in either case is not Halal. This opinion was adopted by Abdullah ibn Umar, Dawood Ad-dhahiri and Ibn Sereen.

Forgetfulness, however, is a valid excuse for not applying or associating consequences of actions to the doer. Rulings and conditions cannot be applied to the person who did or did not do something because of forgetting. The same concept also applies to cases in which the person is under duress, or has done something wrong by mistake.

In conclusion, the correct ruling regarding the requirement of invoking the Name of Allah (SWT) over slaughtered animals is that the invocation is obligatory (Waajib) for the slaughter to be Halal, and that if one deliberately omits it, his Dhabeehah is Haram to eat. ALL THIS RELATES TO CASES IN WHICH THE PERSON PERFORMING THE SLAUGHTERING IS A MUSLIM.





Islamic method of Slaughtering animals is better

...scientific reason...


Al Shaddad Bin Aous has quoted this tradition of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) "God calls for mercy in everything, so be merciful when you kill and when you slaughter, sharpen your blade to relieve its pain".

Many allegations have been made that Islamic slaughter is not humane to animals. However, Professor Schultz and his colleague Dr. Hazim of the Hanover University, Germany, proved through an experiment, using an electroencephalograph (EEG) and electrocardiogram (ECG) that *Islamic slaughter is THE humane method of slaughter* and captive bolt stunning, practiced by the Western method, causes severe pain to the animal. The results surprised many.


Experimental Details:

1. Several electrodes were surgically implanted at various points of the skull of all animals, touching the surface of thebrain.

2. The animals were allowed to recover for several weeks.

3. Some animals were slaughtered by making a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck cutting the jugular veins and carotid Arteries of both sides; as also the trachea and esophagusHalal Method.

4. Some animals were stunned using a captive bolt pistol humane slaughter by the western method.

5. During the experiment, EEG and ECG were recorded on all animals to record the condition of the brain and heart during the course of slaughter and stunning.


Results and Discussion:

I - Halal Method

1. The first three seconds from the time of Islamic slaughter as recorded on the EEG did not show any change from the graph before slaughter, thus indicating that the animal did not feel any pain during or immediately after the incision.

2. For the following 3 seconds, the EEG recorded a condition of deep sleep - unconsciousness. This is due to a large quantity of blood gushing out from the body.

3. After the above mentioned 6 seconds, the EEG recorded zero level, showing no feeling of pain at all.

4. As the brain message (EEG) dropped to zero level, the heart was still pounding and the body convulsing vigorously (a reflex action of the spinal cord) driving maximum blood from the body: resulting in hygienic meat for the consumer.


II - Western method by C.B.P. Stunning

1. The animals were apparently unconscious soon after stunning.

2. EEG showed severe pain immediately after stunning.

3. The hearts of the animal stunned by C.B.P. stopped beating earlier as compared to those of the animals slaughtered according to the Halal method resulting in the retention of more blood inthe meat. This in turn is unhygienic for the consumer.


Is it no wonder that animals killed using any method other than
cutting the jugular vein (see above article) is forbidden in the Holy Quran? God is the author of the Holy Quran and He knows best what's good for us!




WASHINGTON (Reuter) - A stun gun used on cattle before slaughter can send brain tissue scattering throughout the animal, which could provide a route for madcow disease to spread to humans, a consumer group said Thursday.

There have been no documented cases of madcow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), in the United States, but the consumers group said the use of stun guns posed a potentially deadly risk in Europe.

``These new discoveries mean that some of the steaks and hamburgers Amercans eat today may contain small bits of brain matter,'' said David Schardt, nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

``Now, since BSE has not been detected here, there is no known risk at this time. But where BSE does exist in cattle, such meat with specks of brain tissue in it could be a deadly meal,'' he said.

In an unusual news conference, the Washington-based consumer watchdog group was joined by meat industry representatives who said they planned to sponsor a study on stunning methods later in the year.

``If a problem is found either with stunning in general or with particular methods or machinery, we will move swiftly to address it,'' said Janet Collins, a vice president at the American Meat Institute, an industry trade group.

Brain tissue and spinal cord are the most infectious part of an animal with BSE, which eats deadly holes in an infected animal's brain. A world panic over beef was triggered after an outbreak of the disease among British herds in the late 1980s.

Scientists remain unsure whether madcow disease can be transmitted to humans, but say they are concerned about an inexplicable rise in the number of cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, an incurable brain disease in humans.

BSE has never been detected in U.S. cattle herds and federal health officials have erected a series of ``firewalls'' against it, including banning feeding ruminant by-products -- parts of other farm animals -- to cattle, a practice believed to have
spread BSE in Britain.

Before cattle are slaughtered, they are stunned with a shot to the head to make them unconscious and to protect workers. Stunning is required by law so the animal feels no pain when it dies.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest said recent research at Texas A&M University and by Canada's Food Inspection Agency found a method called pneumatic stunning delivered a force so explosive that it splattered brain tissue throughout a cow's system.

``Our research shows that it's possible that microscopic particles of brain matter can be circulated to the lungs, liver and maybe other sites,'' Tam Garland, a research veterinarian at Texas A&M said in CSPI's July newsletter. ``The implications are frightening.''

Some 30 to 40 percent of American cattle are stunned by pneumatic guns, which fire a metal bolt into a cow's brain followed by a pulverizing burst of 150 pounds of air pressure.

The method is popular at larger U.S. meat plants because it renders cattle insensible longer than other techniques, erasing concerns the animals might revive before they are killed and cause havoc in a long processing line. Pneumatic guns are not used widely abroad.

Meat industry officials said they started considering a study on stunning methods several months ago after learning of the research. They said they planned to tap U.S. and Canadian government officials for advice on how to conduct the study and hoped to have results by the end of the year.

``No one wants the U.S. to remain BSE free more than the nation's one million beef producers,'' said Gary Weber of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

© Copyright 1997, Reuters News Service